Head Coach excited by European challengeSteve Tandy has described the Ospreys’ Heineken Cup draw as “exciting” as he reflected on his team being picked out in Pool 1 with the newly crowned PRO12 and T14 champions, as well as the Aviva Premiership runners-up.
With Leinster, Northampton Saints and Castres all set to visit the Liberty Stadium during 2013/14 for European action, the Ospreys Head Coach said he can’t wait to do battle with some of the continent’s leading teams.
Leinster secured a Euro double last month, defeating Stade Francais and Ulster in the space of just eight days to win the Amlin Challenge Cup and the RaboDirect PRO12, while Castres upset the odds to defeat big spending Toulon 19-14 at the Stade de France on Saturday to win their first T14 title in 20 years.
Northampton were defeated by Leicester at Twickenham two weekends ago in the Premiership final.
“If this doesn’t excite you as a coach, player or supporter then nothing will” said Tandy.
“The Heineken Cup is all about testing yourself against the best teams in Europe, and against some of the best players in the world, and that is definitely the case for us in this pool.
“To look at some of the big games we’ve got coming up next season is really mouth-watering. I can’t wait for it if I’m honest.”
Focussing on the three teams that the Ospreys will be coming up against, Tandy commented:
“Leinster are one of the real giants of European rugby. Because we are so familiar with them from playing them regularly in the PRO12 some people tend to underestimate what a great side they are but that won’t be the case with us. They have a proven track record in this competition and the self-belief that comes with that. We’ll play them full of respect for what they are about, but knowing that we can, and have, go there and win big games, something that they’ll be well aware of.
“All anyone needs to know about Castres is that they are French champions, that says it all. They’ve got a tremendous team ethic, they are hard working and their success speaks for itself. To win such a competitive league ahead of teams like Toulon, Toulouse and Clermont Auvergne with their star-studded squads is a fantastic achievement. Going to somewhere like Castres will provide a new challenge for this group, but it’s a challenge we are really excited about.
“Anglo-Welsh games always have a special feel to them and I wouldn’t expect it to be any different with Northampton. They are a typically physical English club and it’s always a tough place to go. We enjoyed two great matches with Leicester last season, two closely fought games, and I would expect something similar with Northampton.
“This is a great competition and it’s going to be an extremely competitive pool. There will be some upsets right the way through the group as it is four good teams, but that makes it all the more exciting for everyone involved.”
2013/14 season memberships are on sale now, covering entrance to all three of these exciting Heineken Cup home pool fixtures as well as entrance to 11 RaboDirect PRO12 matches, two home games in the LV= Cup and a pre-season fixture against Worcester Warriors on the weekend of Friday 23rd August.
Earlybird prices start at just £82.50 when you bring a friend – that’s an incredible £4.85 a game for 17 home matches throughout the season – which means that even if you just attend these three Heineken Cup games and one other throughout the season then your best value option for supporting the Ospreys is to sign up for season membership before the Earlybird deadline at 6pm next Monday.
2013/14 Heineken Cup pools
Pool 1 Leinster Rugby, Northampton Saints, Ospreys, Castres Olympique
Pool 2 Toulon, Cardiff Blues, Glasgow Warriors, Exeter Chiefs
Pool 3 Toulouse, Saracens, Connacht Rugby, Zebre
Pool 4 ASM Clermont Auvergne, Harlequins, Scarlets, Racing Metro 92
Pool 5 Ulster Rugby, Leicester Tigers, Montpellier, Benetton Treviso
Pool 6 Munster Rugby, Perpignan, Edinburgh Rugby, Gloucester Rugby
2013/14 Heineken Cup dates
Round 1 11/12/13 October 2013
Round 2 18/19/20 October 2013
Round 3 6/7/8 December 2013
Round 4 13/14/15 December 2013
Round 5 10/11/12 January 2014
Round 6 17/18/19 January 2014
Quarter-finals 4/5/6 April 2014
Semi-finals 25/26/27 April 2014
Final 23/24/25 May 2014